Bush Stopped Military From Killing Zarqawi Before Iraq War
By Randy Risener, FDNS Editor
June 9, 2006
FDNS – President George W. Bush said he was very happy that al-Qaeda’s chief in Iraq was “brought to justice.” However, prior to the war in Iraq the Bush administration repeatedly stopped the military from killing Abu Musab Zarqawi for fear that eliminating him would remove one of their key reasons for war according to an NBC report aired in March 2004 and confirmed last month by the former head of the CIA’s team that was charged with hunting down Osama bin-Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership.
By June 2002 U.S. intelligence had found Zarqawi in a small terrorist camp located at Kirma in what was then the American protected no-fly zone in Northern Iraq or Iraq Kurdistan. The Pentagon moved quickly to draw up plans for killing Zarqawi and destroying the camp but was blocked by the White House according to NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Military officials were adamant that “their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.”
Four months later, Miklaszewski reported, American intelligence discovered the Zarqawi camp was “planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe. Once again, the Pentagon drew up plans to destroy the camp and, again, the White House said no.
By January 2003 matters had gone far beyond a possible threat. “Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq,” said Miklaszewski. Military planners drew up a third set of attack plans that, again, were killed by the White House.
Last month in an appearance on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) public affairs program, Four Corners, Michael Scheuer who was formerly head of the CIA’s bin-Laden Unit said the intelligence sourcing on the camp had been “excellent” and included “traditional signals intelligence, human intelligence and overhead imagery.”
“Almost every day we sent a package [intelligence] to the White House,” Scheuer said.
“I just remember,” Scheuer said, being very irate that we had a target that was solid… Very high percentage chance of killing him. And we forwent it for reasons that were, to me, ludicrous.
Schuerer said the reason given to the CIA for not attacking the camp was “that the President and the National Security Council decided it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression that we were gunslingers.”
Steven Simon, a senior Middle East and terrorism analyst with the Rand Corporation and Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said “in the sense that if you strike a camp that you have asserted to be a reason for war and you take it out, the question then arises, well, then why go to war if you’ve done this?”
Simon, former Senior Director of Transnational Threats on the National Security Council (NSC), appeared on the Four Corners program along with Scheuer.
During the run up to the war, administration officials used the camp’s existence to bolster their claims that Iraq was harboring terrorists while usually neglecting to mention that while the camp was within Iraq’s borders, it was in an area over which the Baghdad regime had no control because of the American enforced no-fly zone protection.